Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Of Bonnets and Fire Breathing Kids

Scotch Bonnet - it seems like something you'd put on a doll or a baby even.  Oh, it's sunny out - might want to protect your head and put a Scotch Bonnet on.  It might even be a plaid or a tartan of some sort.  Oh what a cute lass, in her Scotch Bonnet.
No.  Not.  Scotch Bonnets are peppers from hell itself.  (Mom - it's true - I know that's strong language.)  I suppose I should tell you why I speak so strongly about these little demon peppers.
chicken Fajita Pasta - the recipe sounded great.  A dish to make on a Sunday afternoon, left overs to carry us through the week - great!  Oh, salsa, I need a cup of that.  Well, I have two partials in the fridge of homemade salsa, I'll just combine them and that'll work.  Why take the walk down the stairs to get a new bottle?  Oh, one is Andy's mouth torching salsa?  It's not that much, it should be fine. 
It was not fine.  When your daughter holds her tongue with tears in her eyes saying "it's too spicy mommy" - you know you are in trouble.  This recipe would have been great with normal mild boring salsa.  Next time?  That's how it's being made.  Boring.  Not with Andy's crazy hot salsa that we had to buy special peppers for because the ones we grew were sallies and had zero heat.  Not sure Bronwyn and I will ever be the same after the Chicken Fajita Pasta incident of 2015... we just might not.

Chicken Fajita Pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope (3 tablespoons) taco or fajita seasoning
2 cups diced bell peppers (2-3 bell peppers)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream (or milk)
1 (10-oz) can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
8 oz (about 3 cups) penne pasta
½ teaspoon salt

1.Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Season with half of taco seasoning. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, carefully add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring until one side is seared and browned, about 1-2 minutes. Flip the chicken to the other side and cook until browned. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
2.Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet with the heat still on high. When the oil is very hot again, add the onions, bell peppers, and remaining taco seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly blackened. Turn heat to low, add minced garlic, and stir until fragrant and well combined, about 30 seconds. Remove the veggies to the plate with the chicken.

3.In the same skillet, add the broth, cream, diced tomatoes, uncooked pasta, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Add the chicken and veggies back into the skillet and stir to combine until heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve with buttery garlic bread and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Good Ol' South of Chicago Steam Pot (doesn't quite have a ring to it)

Food is better shared with those around you.  This meal we shared with Andy's brother Aaron and our sister-in-law Krista.  Our kids love their uncle and aunt.  They live so close, so it's nice to be able to spend time together.
I'm not usually a big cabbage fan, but this turned out pretty well.
Typical Erin, start loading things into a pan that is too small and hope it works out.  This time I took a step back and put it in a bigger pan and it barely fit in the roasting pan!  It was very easy, layer everything and top with foil.  Toss in the oven and wait.
Make a big ol' recipe to share with company and don't forget to use a big enough pan.

Sausage Steam Pot with Potatoes & Cabbage

2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces*
2 1/2 pounds small potatoes (I used Honey Gold)
1 head cabbage
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Clean cabbage and slice off the dirty party of the stump where the stem was. Cut the cabbage into 10-12 wedges and place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Don’t remove the core as it will keep the wedges together.

Pour chicken broth into pan. Place potatoes evenly in pan, around cabbage wedges. Season potatoes and cabbage with salt and pepper. Arrange sausage pieces evenly in pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you might end up layering some of the potatoes and sausage on top of cabbage.

Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil or tight-fitting lid (we're steaming here so it's got to be good and tight) and bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sticky Fingers Optional

French toast is yummy.  It just is.  It's one of those comfort foods that is good any time, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Some might even say it's a vehicle for syrup... also true.  When having 40+ people at your house, making French toast for each person, not the easiest thing to do.  I found this make ahead French toast bake and thought it was the perfect option.  I could make it ahead of time and bake it when we are ready.  I didn't have vanilla paste, in fact, adding that to my list of things to google today.  I did have some old vanilla beans in my cabinet.  Oh were they ever crunchy... another thing to add to my list of things to buy.  I did scrape out as many of those wonderful black seeds as I could.  The addition of vanilla to this French toast - heavenly.
You don't even need to add syrup to this recipe, just use the glaze.  And I modified the recipe and added extra liquids, my mom made it as it was written and it was too crispy dry.  Go with your gut, if you think it needs a few more eggs to soak the bread, you probably need a few more eggs and another splash of milk.
Enjoy the smell of baking French toast and sitting back and not having to get your fingers dipped in the sticky eggs.

Easiest Overnight French Toast Bake

3 small French baguettes, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups milk
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

For the maple glaze
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons maple syrup, or more, to taste

Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place bread slices evenly into the baking dish.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture evenly over the bread slices. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread mixture into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and maple syrup until well combined and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture evenly over the bread slices.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Best Baked Baptism Buns (yes I did that...)

In our low cal house - a party is a welcome chance to make something tasty.  We had back to back parties.  One for Bronwyn's birthday and the other for Nicholas' baptism.  The balance doing this is making sure not to tread too hard on your family asking them to bring food - even if they offer.  My sister-in-law Allison makes amazing Cinnamon Rolls, but she was bringing something the night before - so I decided to make cinnamon roll cookies instead.
I made the dough a few days before - in effort to time save.  When I made it - I was worried.  The dough is not the kind of supple lovely dough you can roll out, slice away and make beautiful cookies.  It was sticky.  SO sticky.  I ended up rolling it between parchment paper and praying.  After the filling was added, I used the parchment paper to help me roll up the dough into a log, plopped it in the fridge and prayed.
 A day before the party, when I sliced these cookies, it sliced better than any slice and bake I've ever made.  The slices were firm and cut cleanly.  They even puffed up more than I gave them credit!  After the icing was painting on, these cookies were winners.  Andy can attest to their awesomeness... or maybe it's been so long since he's had a baked good these tasted extra good.  No... I'm taking it as a compliment.  These are good cookies.  As good as a real fluffy cinnamon roll?  Are you out of your mind?  No.  As an awesome cookie?  Oh my yes.
Crud... now I want cookies and cinnamon rolls.  Hrm.  Carrot stick anyone?

Cinnamon Bun Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

for the cinnamon smear
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, salt, zest, and vanilla together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, beating well to incorporate.

Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, mixing until just barely combined.

On a sheet of wax or parchment paper (whatever your preference), roll the dough out to approximately 12" square (or more if you want to get more spirals – see my comment above). When it comes time to roll into a log, the paper makes it easier to lift the edge and handle the dough.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all of the cinnamon smear ingredients and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Spread the cinnamon mixture on top of the rolled out cookie dough.

Roll the dough into a log shape. Once you get an edge started rolling by just folding it over slightly, you can simply lift the paper edge and use it to guide the dough to continue rolling. There's a video here that shows what I mean about lifting the paper edge to create the roll. The ends of the log will likely be a bit sloppy, so you can just smoosh them in to form a flat edge. The first slice from each end will not have the pretty spiral, but there won't be any wasted dough.

Wrap the log in plastic wrap or the parchment paper you used to roll it out and gently squeeze the log to ensure there are no air pockets inside. You can then roll the log a few times to smooth it back out if necessary.

Transfer the dough to the freezer for at least 15-20 minutes, until firm.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the dough log from the freezer and using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4" slices. Give the log a quarter roll after each cut so it doesn't develop a flat edge from constantly pressing on the same side.

Transfer the cut slices to your prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 12-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until they’re lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the cookies from the pan and allowing them to cool completely.

Combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and whisk together. Add additional water if it seems too thick. Using a pastry brush, apply a thin coat to the top of each cookie. Allow to sit at room temperature to dry completely.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Pattern: Playing Peek-a-boo with Petunia

Introducing - Playing Peek-a-boo with Petunia.

We are very excited to let you know we are participating in the Norden Online Needlework Show!
The 10 day wholesale only online show will being starting August 10th and will run through the 19th.  
If you are a shop - please be sure to check out this show!
If you are a home stitcher/puncher - be sure to let your local shop know you want them to participate in the show to get this great new pattern first.

Want more info on the show?
Click Here to visit the website
Click Here to check out the Show Facebook Page 

Click Here to visit our the Show Blog!
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